Living in a city as nice as Toronto, I am surrounded by many great restaurants. I try to cook at home most of the time, for health and economic reasons, but I am slowly scoping out delicious, cheap places to meet over food prepared by someone else.
Currently, some of my favourite places to eat out, if I must, include:
Folia Grill – excellent home-grown Greek fare with a delicious chicken gyro pita for $4
Sky Blue Sky – a quaint sandwich shop, with all under $5, including the suprisingly filling pulled pork sandwich. Chatting with the owner about the trendy (pulled pork) and less popular (cashew butter and cucumber) sandwiches is equally amusing when selecting your choice
The Fish Store – delicious fish sandwiches prepared from your choice of fresh fish, all under $10, and a delicious homemade lemonade for $3
Manpuku – my long-time favourite for Japanese, but you won’t find any sushi here. Their nikku udon (beef soup with udon noodles) is a great heart-warming dish for under $6
Guu – still Toronto’s newest sweetheart, with a second location expected in the Annexe, this is a popular Japanese izakaya (aka tapa-style bar). Everyone is welcomed as soon as they enter and leave the resto and the dishes have yet to disappoint me. All dishes are under $10, but the sizes are smaller and meant for sharing.
Pomegranate – a newer find that complements my latest love of Middle Eastern food. This is Persian food at its finest, at reasonable prices around $15.
Amaya – A bit of a splurge restaurant (mains under $20), especially since it is Indian, but I am enthralled by their butter chicken. If only I knew how to make it myself!
Canoe – This is arguably Toronto’s best restaurant and it has the price-point such that it is very elitist, and limited to special occasions only. You get what you pay for, and it is lip-smacking delicious. I really appreciate their use of local, unique ingredients, prepared, oftentimes, in a myriad of ways. I know these are dishes I would have a difficult time recreating at home, which is important for my restaurant adventures. While the written menu did not immediately appeal to me, I just had to ask the server to explain what each dish entailed. It is here that I had a surreal mushroom soup that tasted like apple due to the varieties used, and I had squab prepared in 3 different ways: marinated with Newfoundland screech, drenched in a Saskatoon berry sauce and served with a side of dinosaur kale.
Enough gushing over Canoe, because I like to post things I make myself on my food blog. Imagine my surprise when I saw Canadian Living had Canoe’s recipe for wild rice pudding with a rhubarb compote. I could now bring the taste of Canoe into my own kitchen. :)
It boasted a baked rice pudding with short-grain and wild rice within a orange- and cinnamon-scented creamy base, topped with a sweet-and-tart rhubarb compote.
While I have not had this at the restaurant, I might have to go there to try it out because my kitchen adventures were not as successful as I’d hoped. The rhubarb compote almost seemed to be in excess with the delicious flavours from the pudding. The wild rice added a nice crunch and the orange and cinnamon flavours blended well together, but my pudding was too thick for my liking. I wonder if there was too much evaporation during the baking? I think my substitutions were legit, but you never know. Maybe the recipe was meant to be a teaser, just to bring us back into the restaurant? ;)
People eat not only with their mouth, but also with their eyes. If something looks hideous, will it taste any good? Of course! I have faith in the power of the underdog, but I know that all our senses go into how food tastes. The perfect meal includes fresh, great-tasting ingredients cooked just slightly to let their colour and flavours shine through. This is coupled with the food perched in perfect balance, as the presentation and warm plate go a long way. And, obviously, the most important part of the meal is who you are sharing it with, with the fantastic flutter of your heart, while enjoying your quiet environment and quaint ambiance.
That is the perfect meal and I rarely go all out for the consumption of food. I try to master part 1 and 2, with fresh ingredients and cooking them nicely. Sometimes I utterly fail in the presentation department and oftentimes I eat in front of my computer by myself (fail, yet again). This brings me to this dish, which I swear is utterly unphotogenic but tastes great. I think scrambled eggs are hard to photograph on the best of days, but theses light and fluffy eggs are scrambled with allspice, which turns their typical golden yellow an unappealing brown. The rhubarb pierces through, though, as little red jewels. Topped with dried mint, this savoury dish is a feast for the tastebuds, but not a masterpiece for the eyes.
I am hoping the allure of soft rhubarb with the homeliness of allspice within fluffy eggs will entice you to try this lovely Jewish Syrian dish, courtesy of Aromas of Aleppo by Poopa Dweck. The photos are not likely to win me any new friends. :P Due to its savoury nature, I thought this was great as a vegetarian main, but the scrambled eggs has me screaming breakfast and brunch. Another fabulous cookbook, Olive Trees and Honey, explains this breakfast or lunch meal is typically served alone, with toast or rice, along with Syrian white cheese and apricot jam. Enjoy!
This is the last of my savoury rhubarb recipes (my others were tofu in a zesty rhubarb sauce, a lentil and rhubarb stew with Indian spices and a raw rhubarb, cucumber and mint salad) and I was incredibly surprised at rhubarb’s versatility. I can’t wait for next year’s crop to provide me with more inspiration. This is my submission to this month’s Breakfast Club featuring eggs.
I normally don’t go to the trouble of a meal with lots of side dishes, as I prefer one-pot wonders. I like to have a complete meal in one dish. Rather, I like to cook this way as I find it easier. Perhaps I am lazy and don’t want to make many dishes that need to be timed to finish at the same time, or maybe because I really don’t like to clean dishes.
I am glad that I wasn’t intimated by the long list of ingredients, steps and components of this dish. Because it was phenomenal. I have been investigating unique ways of cooking rhubarb and this did not disappoint. Each component was outstanding on its own and together they were simply divine.
First, the rhubarb sauce is zesty: sweet, sour and pleasantly spicy all in one. Ginger, chili flakes, garlic, soy sauce and honey work really well together. Second, we have crisp firm tofu that has been marinated in a sweet and savoury sauce including allspice, ginger, and chili flakes. I have fallen for allspice recently and absolutely love it. This is served over a bed of rice that is combined with wilted kale, and as you use the same pan from the tofu, any brown bits (=flavour!) get included into the rice mixture as well. Topped with chopped cashews and green onions, this is a very tasty dish with many complex textures and flavours.
Earlier this month, I was challenged to think of savoury ways to use rhubarb through Ricki’s SOS challenge. I posted a few recipes with rhubarb this month, including an Indian Lentil and Rhubarb Stew, but my mind kept wondering what else I could do with the rest of my rhubarb.
Rustic Fruit Desserts spotlighted two different rhubarb compotes, including a raw rhubarb compote where raw rhubarb, sugar and fresh orange juice meld for 6 hours on your counter for a tasty snack. While I didn’t make the dessert, my curiosity was peaked about raw rhubarb.
I subsequently stumbled upon a raw rhubarb salad with cucumber and mint in Paula Wolfert’s The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen, although there was nothing slow about this recipe. A bit of salt is added to temper the rhubarb and within ten minutes, you have a savoury salad ingredient – not at all tart! The rhubarb is mixed with thinly sliced cucumber, baby arugula and spinach, squirted with lemon juice and topped with shredded mint leaves. It is a wonderfully delicious, simply refreshing salad. Simple ingredients go a long way for an easy salad for the summertime.
Do not shy away from raw rhubarb. Succumb to it. You will be pleasantly surprised at rhubarb’s versatility.
I am a bit late, but we’ll see if Ricki can add this to her SOS Rhubarb round-up (can’t wait to see what everyone else made) as well as to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays (which also includes salads). Props go to Rob for making the salad – under my supervision – hence why it can go on my blog. :)
Hi. My name is Janet. And I am a hoarder.
I like to buy things on sale. I like to buy things for dishes I plan on making. As such, I have purchased seemingly obscure ingredients and spices for ethnic dishes.
I try to cook with fresh ingredients, so my fridge is usually packed with food and my freezer is filled to the brim. My excuse is that I have a condo-sized fridge, which I feel is not much bigger than a beer fridge. :P One year ago, this is what my fridge looked like, when I was profiled on blogto.com.
Since I have a tiny kitchen in a tiny apartment with limited storage, I have kitchen appliances and food stashed in each room.
I realize this can be a problem, but I still begged my mom to bring me more fresh rhubarb from her backyard. I used the last batch to make a sinfully delicious baked rhubarb and apples with earl grey tea, cardamom and orange zest, a savoury Indian-spiced lentil and rhubarb stew and rhubarb baked oatmeal. And I still had more recipes to try…. so it was justified to ask for more, right? :)
I figured I would also try to help clear some room from my freezer when I saw the blueberry rhubarb crisp with a pistachio crust from Gourmet (June 1999). I knew I had frozen blueberries, so I was off to the races. But then when I measured them out, I was a cup short. Oh no! What to do?! :) Luckily, fruit abounds in my freezer, so I had to decide between mango and cranberries. In the end, I used cranberries to add to the blueberry/rhubarb mixture. And you know what? It was perfect. Sometimes the wacky impromptu substitutions work well!
This seemingly odd combination of tart, soft baked rhubarb with not-so-sweet blueberries and even more tart cranberries was wonderful. The pistachio crisp topping had just the right amount of sweetness for the base and since I squished the topping together, there were nice hearty globs of topping for the fruit filling. The only thing I would do differently next time is increase the fruit filling.
This was delicious slightly cooled from the oven as is, but the leftovers were perfect with vanilla yogurt the next day. The warm crisp with lightly melted vanilla ice cream is an equally decadent treat. Dessert? Breakfast? Sometimes I can’t decide.
While I love oatmeal for breakfast, granola with yogurt and fruit has usurped its position as my go-to breakfast lately. However, when I spotted rhubarb baked oatmeal at My Kitchen Addiction, I knew I had to try it. I had no clue what baked oatmeal was, but the rhubarb drew me in.
Baked oatmeal is an kind of like a big fluffy piece of creamy oatmeal and in this case, speckled with pieces of soft rhubarb, which brought it to the next level. At the same time, sweet and savory, this breakfast is perfect for the weekend, or for a brunch, where you can pop it into the oven and serve it easily. It is relatively healthy with oats, flax and applesauce is used to replace the fat. The sugar is needed to sweeten the rhubarb in the dish and it matches flawlessly. For me, the leftovers were perfect as I ate this as a quick breakfast for the remainder of the week. Enjoy!
Dessert comes to my mind first when I think about rhubarb. I have collected a multitude of sweet rhubarb recipes to try, but who says rhubarb needs to be paired with sugar as a sweet dessert? I stumbled upon an Indian-spiced rhubarb and lentil stew by Mark Bittman at the New York Times, and figured it would be a nice way to delve into Indian cuisine without worrying about curries and chilies.
This was an interesting dish. I must admit that I am not gushing over it, because its mate that night was the baked rhubarb and apples with earl grey tea, cardamom and orange zest which truly stole the show. It had many complex levels of flavour, with the ginger and garlic, then the cardamom and cloves and finally little pockets of poached rhubarb. I didn’t really taste the mustard, though, despite modifying Bittman’s recipe to roast the mustard seeds first. It was different and I enjoyed it, which is most important. I served this with rice as a vegetarian entree, but it could also accompany an Indian-spiced meat dish.
This is my savoury submission to Ricki and Kim’s SOS Kitchen Challenge, featuring sweet or savoury natural vegan cooking highlighting rhubarb this month, to this month’s My Legume Love Affair hosted by Diana at A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa and this month’s Side Dish Showdown.
Here are some other savoury rhubarb recipes that caught my eye:
Lemon-Rhubarb Chicken from Bon Appetit
Beet, Rhubarb, and Orange Salad from Bon Appetit
Rhubarb, Cherry, and Golden Raisin Chutney from Bon Appetit
Black Sea Bass with Sweet-and-Sour Orange Rhubarb Sauce from Gourmet
Caramelized Onion, Beet, and Rhubarb Compote from Affairs of Living
Asparagus with Balsamic Rhubarb Reduction from Cook Local
Caramelised Pastry Straws with Sweet Rhubarb Ketchup from BBC Food
Fresh Mackerel with Roasted Rhubarb from BBC Food
Tilapia with Rhubarb and Scallions from the New York Times
It is no secret that I love tea (in addition to visiting Penzeys when I went to the States, I came back laden with tea from Teavana). I only drink herbal and caffeine-free teas (er, tisanes) but I confess that I have one black tea in my collection. It is Earl Grey Cream. It brings Earl Grey with its hint of bergamot orange to the next level with vanilla and cream. It is also wonderful to incorporate into dishes while cooking and baking. I have used Earl Grey in delicious (and not as delicious) shortbread cookies and here it is paired elegantly with baked rhubarb.
Let me preface this by saying this baked rhubarb is stupendously good*. It helps that it has a lot of my favourite flavours mixing sweet and sour perfectly. The rhubarb and apple are baked until softened, but not mush. Pick an apple that holds its shape, like Golden Delicious, Honeycrisp (one of my my favourite apples!), Gala, Northern Spy, etc – unless you prefer apple sauce. The fruit is lightly sweetened and the flavours abound with citrus (lemon juice and orange zest) that complements the pool of Earl Grey sauce. Cardamom adds the finishing touch. Perfect! Bliss!
I originally served it warm from the oven over chilled vanilla yogurt, and I am sure it would be delicious over ice cream as described by Chez Danisse where I found the recipe. The next day, the sauce thickened slightly and was wonderful for breakfast with yogurt again, but also served over oatmeal. If you prefer more of a smoother sauce, zap it in the microwave for 2 minutes and it disintegrates into a thick sauce.
PS. Does anyone know where to get a good decaf Earl Grey Cream tea that ships to Canada? Bonus if in Toronto!
*It was so good that I called my mom past her bedtime (and past mine) to tell her how awesome it was. Thankfully I didn’t wake her up. It was also too late to share it with all of you, as I try not to photograph food without natural light. I knew I’d have to wait until the morning before I could snap some photos!